The longer I am part of the SAP Community Network (SCN), the more I see this community as a second home. Yes, I am fortunate to work for the Community, so that is one obvious reason. I’m going to share a few more examples of why I can relate to SCN.
One of the things that make SCN successful is that it is an “Open House.” According to a 2009 report by the Altimeter Group, one of SCN’s best practices is to “Open the platform to anyone and everyone.” You don’t even have to be a member to view all the content and conversations that the community has to share. (Of course, the free membership does have its perks including participation in discussion forums and building an online reputation.) It’s obvious this Open House-everyday concept works, and over 20-30K new members are joining us every month.
This notion of an “Open House” also affects the way I engage community members and the community at large. Rather than be a Community Manager, I’m preferring to play the part of a Community Host at this Open House. All along, I’ve been giving those I speak to a ‘guided tour’ of SCN and the BusinessObjects community (now Business Analytics community). Other community hosts like me are more inclined to point out special features, than to tell folks to take off their shoes or snap out “you can’t go into that room!”
Of course, that’s not what online community managers do per se, but I think you’ll understand that the term ‘management’ has connotations of establishing control and setting restrictions – whereas SCN’s approach is to be inclusive. Anyone with “Community Manager” in their title might want to revise this in favour of something more supportive (as you can see, I’ve drunken the Servant Leadership Kool-Aid again – not a bad thing once in a while).
Now, back to restrictive communities vs. inclusive communities. If there is good reason and value for a restrictive community, then by all means do this. At SCN, we say “Welcome!” to our guests and members. We don’t have walls to keep others out or for anyone to write on – we try to keep the floor plan as open as possible. We don’t force anyone to wear a name tag, but certainly encourage our members to introduce themselves, and write their names on their cups (just in case anyone unintentionally or intentionally takes a sip from your cup – *hint hint*).
Since I’ve used the analogy of SCN as a house, I can also see Better. Faster. Stronger. The SAP Community Network … Coming Soon on a New, Modern Platform! of SCN’s migrating to the Jive platform as moving to a new home. At the same time I’m writing this, I am also planning to move to another house. I can really sympathize with many members who may have a hard time leaving things behind, like many of the fixtures we’re use to seeing. For example, I spent many weekends building this staircase (right), for example. But leave it we must.
Luckily, there are many things that not attached or hard-wired, and can be brought over to our new home (like my kids’ hand-painted growth charts). In the case of SCN, the content and points history that many of us have generated will also be migrated.
Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference! For me, I’m looking forward to a home office. For our fellow SCN members, it might be seeing only the Jive 5 and SCN: The Right Content to the Right Person at the Right Time most to you.
Some wise person (Heraclitus?) said that “Change is the only constant.” So I ask, rather than brace for change, why not embrace change? This is a different stance that may not be natural or comfortable for all. There are various low-touch ways to influence SCN today, such as Idea Place, or high-touch ways such as working directly with our administrators (hosts). As we move to Jive, we will be calling for more community input and participation. I hope you join in and speak up.